“Below is an important statement by HSE, An Garda Síochána and Monaghan County Council – the clear messages in this statement must be adhered to by all” – Brendan Smith TD

2nd October 2020

Media Release – North East Major Emergency Management Interagency Group

Monaghan can still bring the number of Covid-19 cases back under control if we all take action – a message from the HSE, Monaghan County council and an Garda Síochána

People in Monaghan have been asked to limit the number of people they come into contact with over the coming days as the county works to reverse the recent worrying growth in the numbers of Covid-19.

The HSE, Monaghan County Council and an Garda Síochána are working together through emergency management structures to co-ordinate the community response to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

In recent weeks, there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases detected through HSE testing, leading to the agencies to appeal to the people of Monaghan to work to reverse that trend as quickly as possible.

Dr Ian Quintyne, Specialist in Public Health Medicine in North East explained that prompt action now could bring the situation back under control.

“Monaghan has come from a low number of cases, and although the recent rise is worrying we still have time to get it back under control – if we all act right now.
The people of Monaghan have done great work over the last few months, and it’s that work which is giving us a small window of opportunity to turn things around,” he said.
 Dr Quintyne added:

“Here are the actions I am now asking everyone to take for the foreseeable future:
 – Keep numbers of contacts as low as possible. I know that we want to liveand socialise as normally as possible, but if we see fewer people now it gives us a greater         chance of reining this in.
–          Be really scrupulous about keeping your two metres distance from anyone that you do not live with.
–          If you have any symptoms or are worried at all, don’t hesitate – ring your GP and follow your GP’s advice. If your GP refers you for a test, then please isolate at home.
–          If we in Public Health advise you to stay at home, then please follow that advice.”

 Chief Superintendent for the Monaghan Garda Division, Aidan Glacken said:
“In supporting the Covid-19 public health guidelines, we need everyone to double down on the tremendous efforts they have made here in Monaghan. We need everyone to limit the contact they have with each other. Whilst you may feel safe at home and think it’s ok to have friends over or have a party, you are putting your health, their health and everyone you come into contact with afterwards at risk. It is vital that you continue to play your part by limiting contact with others – this will save lives.”

The Chief of Executive of Monaghan County Council Eamon O Sullivan said:
“In light of the increase in positive Covid-19 cases across our communities it’s more important than ever that we hold firm, protect each other and follow the public health guidelines. Social distancing, wearing face coverings and handwashing play a crucial role. Limiting our number of contacts plays a vital role in reducing the spread of this virus and help our frontline health and emergency workers respond effectively. We can get through this together if we all do our part.”
ENDS

Smith urges UK/NI driving licence holders to exchange licences for Irish equivalents ahead of crunch Brexit talks

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has urged holders of UK or Northern Irish driving licences to apply immediately to exchange their licence before the end of the year.  

Currently, the UK is in a transition period following their exit from the European Union. During this transition period it is still possible to exchange a UK/NI driving licence for an Irish equivalent. This transition period ends on December 31st 2020.  

Deputy Smith commented, “I would urge anyone holding a UK/NI driving licence who is resident in Cavan-Monaghan to immediately apply for an Irish driving licence. If resident in Ireland and holding a UK driving licence, post December 31st it will be illegal to drive on that UK/NI licence.  

“To prevent a last-minute backlog, I would urge residents in the border region to get in touch with their local National Drivers Licence Service Office (NDLS) to begin this process.  

“As we approach crunch Brexit talks, I would urge constituents, business owners, neighbours and friends in the border region to prepare for a potential hard Brexit. I commend the work of Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD in Brussels this week and hope for a successful outcome of talks between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Johnson this weekend,” concluded Deputy Smith.  

St Clare’s building project to go to tender – Brendan Smith TD

St Clare’s Cavan Town

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has welcomed the approval of Stage 2 (b)  by the Minister for Education of a major building project for St. Clare’s National School, Cavan Town. 

This approval enables the project to go to tender stage with all the architectural planning phase complete. 

“I welcome this approval by Minister Foley as I had highlighted to her the need to have this new school building project progressed as soon as possible.  There has been a very large increase in enrolment in this school over recent years and this new permanent accommodation will be very welcome. 

I compliment the Principal, Alma Leonard and her staff colleagues, the Board of Management, Parents’ Association and the wider school community on their work in bringing this project to this stage.

I will continue to work with all involved to ensure that the project proceeds to construction as soon as possible”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

Mental health of third level students must be priority ahead of the new academic year – Smith

-Govt. allocate €5m in student supports- 

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the mental health of third level students should be prioritised this year given the uncertainty and far reaching changes brought about by coronavirus.  

He commented, “Every age group has been affected by coronavirus. Many young people feel that life is on pause and they will miss the traditional college experience that their predecessors have had. Remote learning and completing course work away from the college campus brings its own difficulties.  

“To address the mental health challenges that students attending third level will face funding has been provided by Government to implement greater supports. This funding totals €5m. This funding will be used to recruit additional Counsellors and Assistant Psychologists in Higher Education settings.  

“There is an onus on Further and Higher-Level Education institutions to provide clarity to students in relation to on campus and remotely learning schedules for the academic year ahead. So far, this clarity has been lacking overall and causing difficulties for students in terms of accommodation and other plans they will need to make this year.  

“We take pride in having an educated workforce. It is one of our drivers in attracting so many multinational businesses into the State. During this public health crisis, it is vitally important our next generation is supported. The funding and increase in mental health supports and services in Higher Education will go some way in supporting our students,” concluded Deputy Smith.  

Applications open for 2020 National Lottery Grants.

HSE are now accepting funding applications for the 2020 National Lottery Grants.  The closing date is 18th September.  See http://hse.ie/lotterygrants for more details & how to apply.

Improvement works to Claragh Bridge – Brendan Smith TD

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fail TD Brendan Smith and Councillor Aiden Fitzpatrick have received confirmation from Cavan County Council that they are seeking conservation advice with a view to retaining the lattice railings on Claragh Bridge, Cootehill.

“Cavan County Council has closed the Claragh Road for bridge rehabilitation works on Claragh Bridge as it is in a dangerous condition. Some local residents raised with me the need to retain the railings and I welcome Cavan County Council’s commitment in this respect”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

Irish Water to commence works in Shercock to reduce leaks and improve water quality for local residents and businesses

Issued 25 August 2020 – Irish Water, in partnership with Cavan County Council, is replacing old problematic water mains in Shercock, Co. Cavan to provide a more reliable water supply, reduce high levels of leakage and improve water quality.

Works will take place along the Baileborough Road and will involve laying new water service connections from the public water main in the road to customers’ property boundaries and connecting it to the customers’ water supply. Where the existing service connections on the public side are lead, these will be replaced as part of this improvement work which will reduce the instances of bursts and water outages and will ensure a reliable supply of water to customers and local businesses in the area
The works will be carried out on behalf of Irish Water by Farrans and are expected to be completed by October 2020.

Speaking about the project, Irish Water’s Leakage Reduction Programme Regional Lead Declan Cawley said “Irish Water is committed to safeguarding the water supply for customers in Shercock and we are delighted to announce that these works will begin at the end of August and will be completed in October 2020.
Declan added “Replacing existing old cast iron will reduce the instances of bursts and water outages and will ensure a reliable supply of water to customers and local businesses in the area. These works will deliver cost savings by providing improved water network operation that will require less maintenance in the future.”

To facilitate the safe delivery of the works, there will be some traffic management in place during delivery. The community will be notified of this in advance. Alternative routes will be available and diversions will be clearly sign-posted. Local and emergency access will be maintained at all times

The works may involve some short-term water shut offs and the project team will ensure that customers are given a minimum of 48 hours’ notice prior to any planned water shut offs
We understand that this type of work can be inconvenient and works crews will make every effort to minimise any disruption these necessary works cause.

This project is one example of how we are working in partnership with Cavan County Council to reduce leaks every day. Fixing leaks can be complicated with over 63,000 km of water pipe in Ireland. Most leaks aren’t visible, resulting in precious water being lost but we are making progress. In 2018 the rate of leakage nationally was 46%, by the end of 2019 it was 42% and we are currently on course to achieve a national leakage rate of 38% by 2021

The National Leakage Reduction Programme helps provide a more reliable water supply to Irish communities, reduce high levels of leakage and improve water quality. Its delivery means investment of over €500 million between 2017 and 2021 to reduce leakage and replace old pipes on the water network
Residents and businesses in the area to benefit from the planned improvements have been notified and customers can phone Irish Water on 1850 278 278 if they have any questions about the project.

Details of work in the area will be updated regularly on the Water Supply Updates section of the Irish Water website at https://www.water.ie/water-supply/supply-and-service-update/
Further information on Irish Water’s Leakage Reduction Programme is also available on the Irish Water website http://www.water.ie.

Need to tackle online abuse – Brendan Smith TD

online abuse

Online safety is an issue that needs to be prioritised due to the increasing incidence of online abuse.

I believe the Minister must have the legislation, Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, enacted at the earliest possible date.

Below reply by the Minister to a recent Parliamentary Question –

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 30/07/2020
Question Number(s): 162 Question Reference(s): 20511/20
Department: Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

[Ref No.: 20511/20]

*  To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the time frame for the introduction and enactment of the online safety and media regulation Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 30th July, 2020.

(1464  Received on 7th July, 2020.)

REPLY

The General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill was approved by Government on 9 January 2020 and subsequently published on 10 January 2020. At that time the Government also approved the detailed drafting of the proposed Bill by the Office of the Attorney General and forwarded the General Scheme to the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Communications, Climate Action and Environment for pre-legislative scrutiny. Due to the dissolution of the Dáil and Committees in January, pre-legislative scrutiny has not yet commenced. Engagement with the AGO is continuing on the detailed drafting of the Bill.

The enactment of the proposed Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill is a commitment in the Programme for Government. At present, responsibility for the proposed Bill is being transferred to the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.

When this transfer of functions is complete, Government approval will be sought for the finalisation of General Scheme of the proposed Bill through the addition to the provisions relating to the funding of the Media Commission and the regulation of audiovisual media services. These additional provisions will then be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General for addition as a basis for detailed drafting and to the relevant Joint Oireachtas Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny. It is for the relevant newly formed Committee to determine whether and when to commence such scrutiny.

At this time, the finalised General Scheme will also be notified to the European Commission for a technical conformity assessment with relevant EU law regarding regulations on online services.

The proposed Bill will establish a multi-person Media Commission, including an Online Safety Commissioner, dissolve the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, establish regulatory frameworks for online safety and the regulation of audiovisual media services, and transpose the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

The regulatory framework for online safety will be overseen by the Online Safety Commissioner. The Commissioner will have the power to designate online services for regulation and to create and enforce binding online safety codes. These will seek to minimise the availability of harmful online content through oversight of the systems that online services used to deliver and moderate content. The regulator will have the power to sanction non-compliant online services.

 

Pandemic recognises no boundaries

regions

Unfortunately there has been an increase in Covid cases recently throughout our island.

Through Parliamentary Questions and in other Dáil Debates I have I constantly emphasised the importance of an All-Ireland approach in dealing with this pandemic which recognises no boundaries.

Below is a reply by the Minister for Health to a recent Dáil Question I tabled.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 30/07/2020
Question Number(s): 1289 Question Reference(s): 20445/20
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

* To ask the Minister for Health if additional measures will be introduced on an all Ireland basis to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 30 July, 2020.

REPLY

There has been ongoing and regular contact at Ministerial level with Northern Ireland throughout this pandemic in relation to how each health system is implementing various public health responses.

A Memorandum of Understanding was formally agreed between the respective health services in April. The MOU focuses on facilitating greater co-operation and consistency of approach wherever possible on areas such as public health messaging, programmes of behavioural change, evidence base/ modelling and contact tracing.

There has been significant engagement between the CMOs, and officials in both jurisdictions. Calls are held regularly including at a technical level to facilitate information sharing on topics such as modelling, testing and contact tracing approaches, tracing apps and travel measures.

In recent weeks, there has been regular engagement at official level  to discuss our policy approaches to international travel and to foster a mutual understanding of our positions on passenger locator forms and on public health advice and requirements for incoming passengers.

The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers. Discussions have and will continue to take place on respective plans for the gradual and controlled easing of restrictions, given the importance of implementing consistent approaches wherever possible. All parties recognise that in terms of public health measures in both jurisdictions, that it will be important to maintain strong North/South collaborative arrangements.

The North South Ministerial Council of 31 July will provide a further opportunity and platform for the discussion of these issues.

Enterprise Centre funding for the regions can be a lifeline for the border region – Smith

enterprise

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has welcomed the launch of a new €12 million Enterprise Centre Fund to help enterprise centres impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Deputy Smith commented, “I welcome the €12m fund from the Department of Enterprise, Business and Innovation to support Enterprise Centres. I am pleased to see this fund is targeted toward the regions. I believe there is no region in need of support more than the border region, given the pandemic and the looming threat of a no deal Brexit.   

“Through Enterprise Ireland I would strongly encourage our Enterprise Centres, and those across the border region, to apply for this funding. Both not for profit and for profit centres are eligible to apply. The role Enterprise Centres provide to our businesses is paramount. This responsibility is all the more important as we begin our economic recovery from the coronavirus.  

“Up to €150k is being made available for Enterprise Centres. Applications can be made now. The closing date for applications is September 30th,” concluded Deputy Smith.